World Mental Health Day Shines Light on Mental Health Inequities 

“Mental Health in an Unequal World” is the focus of this year’s World Mental Health Day (October 10). The theme was chosen unanimously by the members of the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMN) to shine light on the inequities in mental health prevalence and treatment around the world. 

“The gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ grows ever wider and there is continuing unmet need in the care of people with a mental health problem,” the WFMN said in a statement. In low- and middle-income countries, between 75 percent and 95 percent of people with mental disorders are unable to access mental health services at all.  High-income countries don’t fare much better, reaching only 50 percent of those who need services. Patterns of disparity in the burden of mental health are not limited to global geopolitics of course; they can be seen everywhere.

“Right here in Vermont, we see these inequities in access to mental health care,” says Alex Karambelas, project director for COVID Support VT. “Our most vulnerable communities are being hit the hardest. World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to recognize how we can each contribute to the well-being of our neighbors and build stronger, more equitable communities.” 

Stigma, Discrimination Still Barriers to Treatment

Worldwide, mental, neurological and substance use disorders account for 13% of the total global burden of disease, according to the World Health Organization. One person in every four will be affected by a mental disorder at some stage of their lives. Many people with a mental illness do not receive treatment due to stigma and discrimination. The effects of stigma on health care are compounded by their more long-term effects on educational opportunities, employment, and family relationships. 

“The world as we know it has changed dramatically as we experience the unimaginable and unprecedented turmoil caused by the COVID-19 global health pandemic which has impacted on the mental health of millions of people,” said World Federation for Mental Health President Ingrid Daniels. “The overwhelming impact of the virus revealed and exposed the deep inequalities and levels of poverty experienced by many, particularly in lower – and middle income countries, causing further mental distress and vulnerability. Pushed to the foreground was the exposure of many social ills such as; racism, gender-based violence and many others.”

Learn More and Find Resources

Read our blog on health disparities in Vermont: Covid Reveals Health Equity Shortcomings, Exacerbates Health Disparities.

Migrant Workers Face Debilitating Stress reveals how the Latino farmworker community in Vermont is impacted by Covid and resources for help.

Blog written by Brenda Patoine on behalf of VCN/Vermont Care Partners for COVID Support Vermont, a grant funded by FEMA and the Vermont Department of Mental Health

Need to Talk?

Call 2-1-1 (in Vermont) for assistance.

In Crisis? 

If you or someone you care for is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, you can: call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-825; text VT to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor 24/7; connect with your local community mental health center for 24/7 support. 

Find Help

Find resources and tools for coping with stress at

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Find your local community mental health center by visiting Vermont Care Partners.

COVID Support VT is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency, managed by Vermont’s Department of Mental Health, and administered by Vermont Care Partners, a statewide network of 16 non-profit community-based agencies providing mental health, substance use, and intellectual and developmental disability services and supports. 

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